It seemed like a perfect way to start a season. A beautiful day in the Midwest, an orange-hued, tailgated-up crowd ready to verbalize some, well, free-form poetry might be a nice way to put it, toward the Cougars, and the optimism only youth can exude. And then that youth showed. Showed in all the ways WSU fans have seen too often the past couple years. An early mistake, a short rally and then the roof crumbling. Boom, the game was out of hand and the Cougars were left trying to explain why. We’ll do some of the same, and give you links to the Pac-10’s Saturday, so read on.
• Washington State: Next time someone sidles up to me on a social occasion and tells me what a great job I have, I’m going to say, once again, ya, there are lots of cool things about it. Then I’m going to politely mention last night. The nearly one-hour first quarter. The blowout. The post-game misery of 19, 20, 21-year-olds. Trying to make sense of the blowout. Getting locked in the stadium. Walking the half-mile to the car. Trying to stay awake on the 90-minute drive over the Oklahoma backcountry to the hotel, all the while trying to make sense of the blowout. Tracking down stories for the next day’s blog post. And finally, at 3 a.m. crawling into bed. Ya, it’s a great job but … By the way, I’m going to apologize in advance for any typos, grammar problems or misspelling. My eyes are not focusing all that well this morning, so proofreading was a little fuzzy. … Anyhow, we have some thoughts on the rout, some of which came to me as I was passing the exit to Cleveland – Oklahoma, not Ohio – and before I got to Sandsomethingorwhatever. … The last thing I wrote yesterday morning concerned tamping down expectations. I know I’ve written a lot this fall about the improvement WSU had made and I stand by that. But I kept trying to say that it is all relative. How improved, no one knew until the games started. And I’m not sure we know still. I think a good example of how hard it is to gauge a team’s progress in camp was shown by the tackling. All fall long, in scrimmages pitting the ones, the defensive line either held its own or won the day. Rarely did a Cougar running back ever get up a head of steam. Saturday night, a rebuilt OSU offensive line (we’ll get to that in a minute) locked up the Cougar front, leaving the back seven exposed to Kendall Hunter’s abilities. And Hunter won that battle a lot. Does that mean the ability of WSU’s front four was a mirage? In a sense, yes, because we haven’t seen its real capabilities yet, not in camp when it looked so good, or yesterday, when it didn’t. … A lot was being made of OSU’s rebuilding effort, including by me. So many new starters, so many questions marks. One thing that slipped through the cracks, for me anyway, was how experienced those new starters were. Take the offensive line. The four new starters? Three juniors and a sophomore. They all had been had OSU at least two years, redshirting, waiting their turn, playing occasionally, learning what was expected of them and what to expect. When they stepped in, they were ready. And it showed. They played like an experienced group. … The WSU offensive line also played well at times, but that result might have been helped some by Oklahoma State losing its two starting defensive tackles, Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson, to injuries early. … The idea was to play Rickey Galvin this season and redshirt Carl Winston, who played as a true freshman last year. But one play, one snapped bone – I understand it looked pretty bad on TV – and that planned changed. Now Galvin will redshirt and Winston will have to play. He had 14 yards on six carries. Chantz Staden, who missed last year with a knee injury, had 40 on three, a 13.3 average. James Montgomery had 10 – that will increase – and Logwone Mitz had another 10. When Galvin went down, not only did the Cougars lose a potential game-breaking running back, they lost a quick, savvy punt returner as well. And Galvin lost a year of experiencing the ups and downs of college football. … Freshman offensive tackle John Fullington looked like the real deal from what I could see – and, no, I don’t get to watch film after. He is going to play a lot, maybe even start soon. … At one point late in the game, WSU’s back seven were all freshmen, including three players, C.J. Mizell, Damante Horton and Deone Bucannon, who were in high school last year. … This slipped through the cracks last night, but besides Gino Simone, Aire Justin also missed the game with a hamstring. … Now, the links. … John Blanchette had his thoughts in his column, which blends nicely with my game story, our notebook and my post-game thoughts. … The Times’ Bud Withers had his column while also adding a notebook and a 2-minute drill. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick, whose trip to Tulsa rivaled the Cougars’ play on the field – the word late-arriving comes to mind – had this gamer, a notebook and a sidebar. … In Oklahoma, Kendall Hunter’s play reminded some of a former Cowboy: Barry Sanders. … The Oklahoman’s game story. … A photo gallery from the game. …
• Around the Pac-10: ESPN.com’s Ted Miller hands out his helmet stickers. … Jon Wilner’s thoughts on the weekend. … Washington: Wilner’s most disappointing Pac-10 (his words, not mine) shot themselves in the foot in a loss at BYU (their words, not mine). … Was Jake Locker’s Heisman campaign shot down before it got a chance to fly? … Jake Heaps felt great about the win. … Oregon State: Close wasn’t good enough for the Beavers. … John Canzano believes the Beavers missed an opportunity. … That seems to be the consensus. … Oregon: The Ducks battered New Mexico, 72-0. Enough said. … Cal The Bears’ $300,000 was money well spent. … Stanford: Andrew Luck starts 2010 with four touchdown passes. … USC: The Trojans had a day off. … UCLA: Another “shot in the foot” reference. … Another zip code heard from. … Arizona State: Portland State hasn’t had much luck against Pac-10 team the past few years. The loss to ASU was as bad as the one WSU put on them a couple years ago. … The Sun Devils show off their speed. … Arizona: Juron Criner is something special for the Wildcats.
• That’s all for this morning. A long day of flying awaits – we get into Spokane around midnight – so we’ll use the time to prepare our story for tomorrow’s paper and sleep – not necessarily in that order. When the story is done, we’ll pass it on. Until then …